A Veterinary Nurse’s Experience of Adopting a Pet from a Shelter

With the holidays on the way out and the New Year on its way in, this is a time of resolution, change, and the hope of a bright future. For some, this means adding a new family member. I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a fur mom of both puppies and a shelter dog. And although puppies or kittens seem to be the most natural option, adopting a pet in need can be just as fulfilling and rewarding.

I have spoken in several blogs of my beloved Ryder. He along with his doggie sister Scout, are both pure bred Dobermans from reputable kennels in the Toronto area. I did my due diligence with both dogs, dedicating time to research, kennel visits and extensive questionnaires from breeders before I made my final decision.

Life with a puppy is not always easy. And although I have committed myself twice, my newest experience with adopting a dog has given me time to reflect on puppyhood.  Training aside (which is the equivalent to a one year old for at least 18 months), there is something to be said about the immediate gratification of the human animal bond between an owner and a new puppy. They instantly bond with you, looking at you for their every direction, cuddling into the crook of your neck at night. That little puppy belly. The little things that make the puppy experience completely worth it. All the patience and mid night potty brakes eventually pay off when puppy is now a mature dog sleeping at your feet.

So what about the ladder isn’t enough to have your mind made? Over the summer I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer at the Toronto Humane Society. I had an extensive behind the scenes look at what shelter life is like for not only cats and dogs, but mice, rats, rabbits and birds. The level of care they receive is unmatchable in my opinion. Meals twice a day, cleans runs and kennels, 6 walks a day and outdoor play time for the kitties. They receive loads of attention from volunteers and the best medical care. But at the end of the day when the lights go out, they are still alone. When I met Cody, my now 9 year old Chihuahua, he was shy, reserved, and despite the best medical care, had itchy red skin. I don’t know what it was about him that I was drawn too. Maybe it was his little round head and quiet eyes, or my incessant need to collect every skin allergy dog I come across, but I met him, and needed him to come home with me.

After both an application process and interview process with me, Ryder and Scout, Cody was free to come home with me. Now although puppies in themselves are a challenge, rescue dogs are no different. Patience is still required but at a new and different level of understanding. The real challenge is not knowing their history. What kind of life did he live before he came home? And what made him so scared of people, places and things?

Six months later, Cody is finally coming into his own. He’s gaining confidence, enjoys pack walks with his brother and sister, and loves spending his days at the clinic with my coworkers and I. Meeting every new face who comes into the building. The level of reward I feel from making his lonely life into one that is full of joy and loads of sniffing is at the very least equal to raising a puppy.

Interesting Facts about Pet Adoption:

  • Many animals adopted from shelters will come to you fully vaccinated, spay/neutered and microchipped!
  • If necessary, many shelters/rescue organizations will offer training classes for behavior issues and obedience.
  • There are breed specific rescues, which offer dogs of any age and origin.
  • Still itching for a puppy/kitten? Shelters like the Toronto Humane Society will frequently have litters of puppies and kittens as young as 8 weeks old, looking for there forever home.

Written by: Sam Bruno, RVT